Trent Reznor

Sound City Movie

There are many legends that surround the music industry, but Sound City was an actual place that embodied a mythology. Located in Van Nuys, California (i.e. the Valley, i.e. this is when you groan), Sound City was an outdated dump that refused to let the digital revolution through its front doors, but bands continued to seek it out because of two reasons: the staff that welcomed you in like you were one of their own, and the Neve console. The beautiful board that lived at Sound City was custom ordered and gave the studio its signature sound – a perfect distribution that made even distortion sound good. But it was not that this board was magical or that the studio was designed to create this effect (it ironically was not designed at all, just lucked out on having such good acoustics), it was thanks to the “magic” of analog recording which provides a warmth that digital is not yet able to duplicate. Dave Grohl‘s documentary Sound City is certainly a story about the studio and all the artists that recorded there, but that story focuses truly on this board and the one-of-a-kind sound it was able deliver.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Song placement plays a very important role in a film – a song can make you feel happy, sad, nostalgic or make you laugh. Scores can certainly do the same thing, but sometimes a well-placed song works better than any composed piece could. However this tact rarely applies to horror films, especially when leading up to a climatic moment or a jump scare. You can usually sense when these moments are coming – the score becomes ominous, (or even drops out completely) causing your heart beat to quicken as you sense something terrifying is about to be revealed. These moments are almost always driven by score and rarely (if ever) feature a lyric-filled song. And this choice makes sense since lyrics would probably distract from the suspense of the moment instead of drawing it out and, in turn, drawing you into the horror. For horror films, songs with vocals are usually left for party scenes or if a character on screen happens to be listening to the radio, but they are rarely placed within the scene to underscore it. It raises a great question: can a pop or rock song fit into these pivotal moments and have the same effect? Or is this strictly a score or silence choice? I spoke with composer Kurt Oldman who is well-versed in the world of horror film scoring having lent his style to the creepy scores for Killer Holiday, Babysitter Wanted and Neighbor to get his perspective on this idea, how he approaches scoring horror films […]

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Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The folks at the SoundWorks Collection have published yet another one of their excellent exposés on the audible world of Hollywood’s finest products. They’ve long been a bastion of quality exploration into the behind the scenes world of cinema magic. They also talk to some pretty talented people. In this case, they talk The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with the likes of Composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Sound Re-recording Mixer Michael Semanick, and Re-recording Mixer, Sound Designer, and Supervising Sound Editor Ren Klyce. These are the folks who have brought a world of sound to the cold, death-filled landscape to David Fincher’s re-adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s popular novel. Because for every dark, broody story about violence against cats and pale women, there must be an industrial soundtrack.

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I have been an advocate of “Trent Reznor, Composer” after being blown away by the score he created for The Social Network last year (along with Atticus Ross) and was excited when I heard they were teaming back up again with director David Fincher for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. When the first teaser trailer for the film dropped, set to their pulse-pounding version of “Immigrant Song” (featuring Karen O), I was clamoring to hear more of the “turned up to eleven” sound that seemed like it would permeate throughout the “feel bad movie of Christmas.” Unfortunately, this in-your-face attitude seemed to live in this song alone and did not extend to the rest of the score. After releasing a six-track sampler (which you can download here), I realized this score was going to be much more subdued than their previous collaboration, but I was still intrigued and hopeful of what was to come. After hearing the music in the context of the film during a screening this past week, I couldn’t shake the surprising feeling I had when walking away from it – disappointed.

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The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the first book (and film) in Swedish author Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millenium Trilogy. The books have sold 65 million copies worldwide, and the three Swedish films have done blockbuster business throughout Europe and excessively well during limited runs here in the States. This much we know. The mohawked elephant in the room though is David Fincher‘s American remake/adaptation that hits theaters this week. Was it necessary to remake something already popular on such a global scale? Can Fincher improve upon Niels Arden Oplev’s original film? Can Rooney Mara do an equal or better job with the role that made Noomi Rapace an international star? No. Yes. And hell yes.

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This year has brought us back to classic filmmaking from the silent film era with The Artist to the fantasy adventure Hugo, which recalled classic film moments (as The Film Stage rounded up here). The New York Times has even gotten in on the classical score action, drawing on booming horns and frenetic strings to help create horror and unease in their portraits of various actors’ impressions of classic film villains. It is an almost surprising turn in a year that awarded Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s electronic influenced score for The Social Network the Oscar for Original Score and saw electronic duos The Chemical Brothers and Basement Jaxx creating the scores for Hanna and Attack the Block, respectively. Film scoring seemed to be going the way of the electric guitar, swapping out full orchestrations for synthesizers, but as 2011 comes to a close, it seems classic orchestration is not on its way out just yet. Full orchestrations of horns, drums, strings, and wind instruments filled theaters in films like The Artist and Hugo, taking us back to a time when live orchestras would play along with films. Their electronic counterparts tend to turn up the volume (who wasn’t rattled when Reznor and Karen O’s booming “Immigrant Song” in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’s teaser trailer came on screen?) while classical scores are able to gain that same power from the sheer number of instruments called upon and layered together. Both work to draw an emotional reaction out of […]

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We all know that music is an important part of the film experience. It helps set the mood and has the power to completely influence a film’s tone. Changing the music, regardless of what is happening on screen, can suddenly alter the feel or perception of a scene. You take the sound out of a horror film (as I explored here) or replace intense score with cheesy pop music (as spoofed in Funny or Die’s mock Drive trailer) and suddenly the fear and the anxiety are taken away. You are less likely to jump at a sudden reveal without the musical jab that goes along with it and watching Ryan Gosling bash a man’s head into a wall goes from unsettling to humorous when set to Enrique Iglesias’ “I Can Be Your Hero.” Back before there was talking in film, music was the only thing to accompany the moving images and was used to not only convey the emotions being acted out on screen, but to also provide all the sound in the film. The Artist does a brilliant job of not only taking us back to a time of full and vibrant orchestrations, but also reminding audiences how different films were then from what we are used to seeing (and hearing) on screen now. In one of The Artist’s first scenes, this difference proven handily when the audience bursts into applause and you do not hear a single clap.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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What do you do after you win an Academy Award? If you’re Three 6 Mafia, it’s go on to make great music that’s under-appreciated. If you’re Trent Reznor, it’s apparently killing the mother of an iconic historical figure. According to those ever-elusive sources whispering sensually in the ear of Team Bad Ass Digest, Reznor will be scoring Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (which is fantastic news), and he’ll also be playing a small but important role as a vampire that sets Lincoln’s killing ways in motion when he kills the one person in his life that means anything to him. The project is really starting to heat up, which is absolutely ridiculous considering the premise. Two years ago, this thing would have been relegated to some random genre director who wanted to be slightly funny and over-the-top. Now, it’s a serious studio project with a decently well-known action director (who’s tackled vampires before) and Indie Spirit Award nominees and Oscar winners hopping into the cast. It’s sort of incredible, and the prospect of Reznor getting a chance to go dark and wear an old timey top hat is equally exciting. We’ll get to hear his work sooner than that, of course, because he’s set to re-team with David Fincher to score The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which hits theaters in December.

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. Tonight’s the night! You find out if you will take top prize in your office pool, and, you know, you’ll get to see which fantastic films are most celebrated with little naked statues of gold. If you love the Oscars, hate them, or pretend to hate them while sitting riveted to the broadcast, one thing is clear: tonight is a night to celebrate the best in filmmaking. We love movies. So do you. Tonight we can all celebrate our favorites of 2010 even if they don’t win and even if they weren’t nominated. As for those in the running, they are all beautiful works of art, they’re all winners tonight, they went out on the field and gave 110%…and…yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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Emotions are running high in Hollywood this morning after the announcement of this year’s Academy Award nominations. Or at least that’s the sort of thing that people say when they talk about the Academy Awards. I don’t know if anybody really takes this kind of stuff seriously or not. Variety has been hard at work getting reactions from as many of the nominees as possible, which may just give us some insight. Joel and Ethan Coen may have given the most sincere response by saying, “Ten seems like an awful lot. We don’t want to take anyone else’s,” but they weren’t the only ones who avoided the word “journey” like 90% of the pack.

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With this entry, we will have made it an entire week with my new-fangled column, known to you as Movie News After Dark. Congratulations to the seven (or so) of you who have been following along. It’s been a blast. It seems fitting that on a day when I spent more than the necessary amount of time on Twitter bemoaning the fact that most movie blogs don’t care about real movie discussions (they only — I argued — want to republish the top ten lists of filmmakers who saw 11 movies in 2010), that I bring you several news stories that are rather silly. It may be hypocritical in your minds, but what makes it okay is the fact that I really love you, dear readers. And those other sites don’t love you. Trust me, I heard them say it.

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Be it good or bad, The Social Network has certainly caused some extreme reactions. It was met with almost universal skepticism when it was first announced and has now seen nearly universal praise leading up to its release in theaters. Initially referred to as “the Facebook movie” in a way clearly meant to belittle it, audiences at early screenings across the country have discovered that description simply isn’t accurate. Is the movie about Mark Zuckerberg and the inception of Facebook? Of course it is.  But to say that this is a detriment to the film’s potential is just plain wrong. The Social Network follows the story of Mark Zuckerberg, a young computer genius attending Harvard University. After breaking up with his girlfriend and some drunken blogging, Mark decides to create a site to rank the sex appeal of Harvard co-eds. He uses his exemplary computer knowledge to download pictures from the online photo catalog’s that each house or dorm at Harvard has for students to get to know one another.  He compiles the photos into a website which he dubs facemash.com similar to hotornot.com where visitors are presented with two pictures and asked to click on the one who they find sexier. The site crashes Harvard’s computer network in a matter of hours, garnering tens of thousands of htis and drawing the ire of the administration. This leads to Mark developing a new website which he calls The Facebook. Eventually changed to just Facebook with the help of Napster-founder Sean […]

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